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Cricket-Australia’s Khawaja reins in ‘Little Uzzie’ to set up Ashes run chase


BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) – Australia opener Usman Khawaja said he had to rein in the little boy inside him who was telling him to cut loose in the second innings run-chase in their nervy two-wicket win over England in the first test of the Ashes.

Khawaja’s patience in Edgbaston, where he spent close to 800 minutes at the crease, was duly rewarded after he scored 141 and 65 in the two innings respectively, earning him the man of the match award as Australia went 1-0 up in the series.

The 36-year-old conceded it was a ‘mind-tussle’ at times when he wanted to shift gears and accelerate the scoring rate by playing his shots but remained cautious to avoid putting pressure on the lower order.

“As a youngster I had to bat a long time to score runs. I was little, I didn’t have too many shots, so I learnt how to bat a long time from a young age,” Khawaja told reporters.

“(Day five) was tough because I just wanted to take it deep. Little Uzzie inside of me was saying, ‘You can expand now, you can get into second or third gear now’. But I was like, ‘No, no, take it deep, take it as far deep as you can’.

“I knew if we could get into that last hour and had less than 100 runs, we could get it. But if we lost too many wickets early that was game over for us… I kept fighting with myself (saying), ‘Just build partnerships with your team mates’.”

From a team’s perspective, Khawaja said Australia’s victory was “by far my favourite match ever in my life”, trumping his high score of 195 not out against South Africa earlier this year at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

“SCG was special, unexpected. My career was over in my head, I’ve said it a million times but it was. Hard to beat that from an individual point of view,” he said.

“This game, the way it ebbed and flowed, the way they came out and the way we counter-attacked, it looked like we’d lost the game with an hour to go. To come back and win, by far my favourite game of all time.”

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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